On Sunday evening, both campaigns released separate statements admitting to a unified strategy in three upcoming primary states to minimize Donald Trump’s delegate share.
The first step of the plan is for Gov. Kasich to stand-down in Indiana on May 3, where Cruz currently trails the frontrunner by only six points.
However, when asked by the press about the prospects of the deal at a Pennsylvania diner, Kasich started to backtrack.
“They ought to vote for me,” Kasich said about his supporters in the Hoosier State. “But I’m not over there campaigning and spending resources.”
The statement contradicted an earlier quote by Kasich’s Indiana campaign co-chair on Monday who said, “Kasich is asking his supporters in Indiana to vote for Cruz so Trump does not win”.
Despite the conflicting messages, Kasich attended a fundraiser in Indianapolis and met with state Republican officials on Monday evening.
We’re not telling voters who to vote for in IN, only where we are going to spend resources to ultimately defeat Hillary. They get it.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) April 25, 2016
The second part of the strategic alliance requires current second place GOP candidate Ted Cruz to surrender in Oregon and New Mexico — which vote May 17 and June 7, respectively.
A pro-Cruz super PAC called “Trusted Leadership” has announced it will continue their attack ads against Kasich in Indiana, but pull out in the aforementioned western states.
A Kasich supporter and former Oregon gubernatorial candidate, Ron Saxton, said the strategy probably won’t end up making much difference when the votes are tallied in three weeks.
“None of the three GOP campaigns have any real Oregon visibility yet, just the national press,” said Saxton. “Since Cruz’s name remains on the ballot, my guess is that he’ll get close to the same votes he’d get if he hadn’t ‘withdrawn’.”
As for Trump, the GOP frontrunner used the news that both of his rivals were planning to collude against him as a rallying cry at a public event on Monday in Rhode Island.
A Trump campaign adviser told Politico that “nobody’s really concerned about (the alliance) . . . “It’s the next logical step for people who are losing . . . It’s just the cynical manipulations of two campaigns who don’t have anywhere else to go.”
However, Trump could make the Cruz-Kasich strategy nearly irrelevant by Wednesday if the “Super Tuesday IV” polls prove to be accurate.
[Washington Post] [New York Times] [Politico] [Photo courtesy AP/Paul Sancya]